(1/31/19) Hog hunters are at risk for potential exposure to Brucellosis or Bang’s Disease, a bacterial zoonotic disease that is endemic at low levels in our feral hog population, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension.
Hog hunters are commonly infected by bare skin contact when butchering feral swine carcasses. The organism can also be contracted by splashing of contaminated fluids into the eyes and by eating undercooked meat since Brucella suis bacterium remains viable in the meat.
Here are some steps you can take to minimize the chances of infection:
- Avoid eating, drinking or using tobacco when field-dressing or handling carcasses.
- Use latex or rubber gloves when handling the carcass or raw meat.
- Avoid direct contact with blood, reproductive organs and fecal matter.
- Wear long sleeves, eye protection and cover any scratches, open wounds or lesions.
- Clean and disinfect knives, cleaning area, clothing and any other exposed surfaces when finished.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
- Cook meat from these animals to 160F or until juices run clear.
- If an unexplained fever should occur, immediately seek a diagnosis and treatment from your physician, being sure to relate to him/her your history of hunting feral swine.
In humans the disease is commonly referred to as undulant fever (if from cattle or swine) or Malta
fever (if from goats) because the most prominent symptom/clinical sign is a fever (particularly at
night, which often results in “night sweats” and then subsides in the morning, like an ocean wave). If the
disease is not resolved in its early stages, the fever (and other signs) will repeatedly return for an indefinite period of time when the body is under stress.
Other clinical signs in humans include headache, weakness, painful joints, depression, weight loss,
fatigue and liver dysfunction. Any organ or system can be affected. In humans, the urinary tract may be
involved with swollen/inflamed testicles in up to 20 percent of men; the uterus in women is rarely
involved. The nervous system can be infected resulting in depression, mental inattention and/or psychosis due to toxic effects of the brucella organism on the brain. Joint pain is involved in 2060 percent of the chronic cases because of arthritic changes (resulting in inflammation in the weightbearing joints and in the lower back).
Read more about the risk of brucellosis to swine hunters here.